How long should congregational prayers be?


Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa was asked about a statement he made during the concluding address of Jalsa Salana UK with regard to reciting the shorter surahs of the Holy Quran during the Tarawih prayer instead of a whole part. 

In a letter dated 4 February 2020, Huzooraa gave the following reply: 

“[…] As far as the shortening of prayers is concerned, you have confused two of my statements in this regard. I said, with reference to a hadith, that someone complained to the Holy Prophetsa about an imam who used to greatly prolong the prayers. The Holy Prophetsa expressed his displeasure over this. 

“Then, I said that shortening the prayers does not mean that prayers should be offered mindlessly in a hurry. In this regard, I gave the example of [a clip of] Tarawih prayers circulating on social media in which the imam concluded all the rak‘aat of the Tarawih prayer within minutes.

“So, my point was that prayers should neither be prolonged to such an extent that the worshippers get tired and start to resent them, nor is it permissible to shorten a prayer so much that it merely looks like sudden movements instead of a prayer.

“Moreover, it should also be remembered that the prayers which the Holy Prophetsa has instructed to be kept brief, are the obligatory [farz] prayers. The reason for this is that the obligatory prayers must be performed in congregation by all. The Holy Prophetsa said that since the worshippers could include the sick, old, weak and those who needed to go to work, it was the responsibility of the imam to take all of them into consideration and conclude the prayer within a reasonable time.

“However, Tarawih is a supererogatory prayer and it is not obligatory upon everyone to perform it; rather, those who can easily participate in it should do so and those who have an excuse, are free not to. There is nothing wrong with that. 

“Moreover, Tarawih prayers began during the Khilafat of Hazrat Umarra and he initiated them especially for the recitation of the Holy Quran. Therefore, there should be relatively longer recitation in them and if possible, the entire Holy Quran should be completed during the Tarawih prayers in the blessed month of Ramadan.” 

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